Friday, June 13, 2008

Talks on US-Iraq pact at 'dead end'

Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, says talks with the US on a new long-term security pact have reached a "dead end".
The US and Iraq are negotiating a new agreement to provide a legal basis for US troops to stay in Iraq after December 31, when their UN mandate expires.

They are also negotiating a long-term strategic framework agreement on political, diplomatic, economic, security and cultural ties.

"We have reached a dead end, because when we started the talks, we found that the US demands hugely infringe on the sovereignty of Iraq, and this we can never accept," al-Maliki said during a visit to Jordan on Friday.

In his first detailed comments on the talks, he said Iraq objected to Washington's insistence on giving its troops immunity from prosecution in Iraq and freedom to conduct operations independent of Iraqi control.

"We can't extend the US forces permission to arrest Iraqis or to undertake terror fighting in an independent way, or to keep Iraqi skies and waters open for themselves whenever they want," al-Maliki said.

"One of the important issues that the US is asking for is immunity for its soldiers and those contracting with it. We reject this totally."

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